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Naming The Victim
I'm against the notion that it's somehow more shameful to be a rape victim than, say, a victim of a mugging. I actually don't find either shameful, and, in fact, I think hiding the name of a rape victim helps perpetuate the notion that being raped is shameful, but I'm godless and, of course, churchless.

I understand that some rape victims, especially because of the religion or culture they're raised in, feel an enormous sense of shame. But, then, the policy of not naming rape victims in the paper -- while we name victims of every other sort of crime -- allows those who make false accusations of rape a convenient shield. (Personally, I'm of the mind that false accusers of rape, when proved to be so, should be sentenced to the same time the accused would likely have done.)

Perhaps on the way to rethinking the naming the victim issue, the Raleigh News & Observer recently printed the name -- and photograph -- of a rape victim, with that victim's permission, and I think that's a good start. Here's the piece about it, by N&O staff writer Ted Vaden:

The News & Observer does not normally disclose the identity of victims in sex crimes, except with their permission. In this case, Cynthia Morton consented to her name and picture being published in a story on the trial of the man accused of assaulting her 14 years ago. The rapist, Vincent Tan Hall, pleaded guilty.

Morton today is a nurse who helps rape victims, and several readers were moved to comment on her courage -- and on The N&O's policy of not naming accusers.

"I understand the confidentiality policy of The N&O and other media sources, but I think it is great when a victim has the courage to stand up and speak out about what happened to them with confidence and without shame," wrote Raleigh lawyer Sandra A. Good. "Because only the rapist should be ashamed."

In the wake of the Duke lacrosse case, the policy of not identifying sex crime accusers is under review at The N&O. An internal committee is looking at issues such as whether accusers should be identified or, if not, whether the accused also should be shielded.

There is a good bit of sentiment both within the paper and outside for identifying accusers, out of fairness to the accused who routinely are identified when charged. Other arguments: Newspapers are in the business of providing information, not withholding it, and shielding victims contributes to the social stigma attached to sexual assault cases.

"We have an awareness that by shielding women in that way, you perpetuate the stigma," said Sarah Avery, the editor heading the internal review. "But we also know that the stigma does exist" and that many victims don't have the fortitude of a Cynthia Morton to put themselves in the public eye.

Jim Woodall, district attorney for Orange and Chatham counties, told me that identifying accusers would have a chilling effect on victims' willingness to pursue charges. "Over the years, I have known so many, both women and men, who would tell me they did not want to go forward in a case because they did not want to let people know what happened to them, because of the stigma attached."

The other side of the issue is whether, if the accuser is shielded, it's fair to identify the accused. That problem was highlighted on a national scale by the Duke case, but I'm more troubled by a less heralded case recently in the news.

Last month, Woodall dropped charges against five high-school-age boys in Chapel Hill who had been charged with raping a teenage girl. The district attorney said there were too many inconsistencies in the evidence to go to trial.

Here's what bothers me: When the young men were charged, The N&O identified them but, in keeping with its policy, did not identify the accuser. The paper also ran a photo of the youths being led out of a courtroom in shackles and jail jumpsuits.

Some readers complained to me at the time that the picture was unduly harsh on five teenagers (they are all 17 or 18). My response was that it's routine for newspapers to run photos of suspects arrested in crimes. Why should we show favoritism to these five?

But now that the case has been dropped, I wonder. They've been cleared of the charges, but the publicity attendant to their arrest adheres to five young lives. The N&O ran several stories reporting on charges in the case (in fairness, one story led off with the father of one of the accused teenagers saying his son was not guilty). Meanwhile, the accuser remains anonymous.

Avery, The N&O editor, says her committee considered whether in sexual assault cases the names of the accused, as well as accusers, should be shielded. But that's a slippery slope, she said, that could lead to not identifying people charged in any crimes. "If you extend the exemption to rape defendants, then you have to extend it to all defendants," she said.

Her committee hasn't made a recommendation yet, and, as she points out, no policy "abdicates us from applying reason and logic to all the circumstances." In hindsight, I wish the paper had reasoned that publishing the teenagers' names, without the chain-gang picture, was enough to inform the public.

via ifeminists

Posted by aalkon at November 5, 2007 11:40 AM

Comments

Stigma is one thing - perpetuating one's identity as a victim is another. Let us remember in such cases that so long as the criminal is not deterred, especially by awareness of self-defense tactics and societal expectation, we have only increased publicity. For instance, yelling, "I have been robbed" grants you no merit whatsoever. It only means you have been robbed, something you should have been prepared for on a personal level, beyond the expectation that society should not condone robbery. As any cursory look at the treatment of sexual offenders reveals at once, we have a long way to go in thinking about this.

Posted by: Radwaste at November 5, 2007 2:50 AM

"I'm of the mind that false accusers of rape, when proved to be so, should be sentenced to the same time the accused would likely have done."

Agreed! Only I'd expand that thought to all crimes and to any party involved who engages in misconduct (judges, juries, prosecutors, defense attorneys, witnesses).

Posted by: Shawn at November 5, 2007 3:14 AM

"(Personally, I'm of the mind that false accusers of rape, when proved to be so, should be sentenced to the same time the accused would likely have done.)"

Your heart is in the right place but this tastes of schoolyard justice. Of course nothing like this could ever be implemented and in the meantime, perfectly serviceable laws against filing a false police report and committing perjury are not used in these cases because, some wail, it would be heartless after all she’s been through.
Newspapers can follow whatever policy they like regarding alleged victims and perpetrators in their increasingly irrelevant pages but rape shield laws are a different matter. The fact that someone could use an anonymous accusation to settle a personal score is something that occurred to legal scholars back in the days of quills and parchment. The Constitution gives the accused the right to confront and cross examine their accuser and rape shield laws contravene that right; it’s cold, but they do.

There genuinely might be a “chilling effect” if we begin holding false accusers legally responsible for their actions. Hopefully, that effect will be felt first among those who think a false rape accusation is a legitimate legal tactic. It would be tragic if actual rapes went unreported because a woman was ashamed to admit that her “chastity had been tarnished” or some such archaic gibberish but popular culture hardly maintains a place for people with such puritan notions anymore. In fact, there might be an irony here for anyone willing to reach for it a bit: We didn’t realize we needed rape shield laws until we had people who publicly celebrated their avid sex lives to the point where their boasting compromised their credibility in courtrooms.

Posted by: martin at November 5, 2007 7:01 AM

"It would be tragic if actual rapes went unreported because a woman was ashamed to admit that her “chastity had been tarnished” or some such archaic gibberish but popular culture hardly maintains a place for people with such puritan notions anymore."

Although virginity 'aint what it used to be, some degree of chastity is still important to most women, and the trauma of publicity after a rape is greater than after most other crimes. I'm not in favor of publicizing rape victims names. It seems that some accommodation here would be a greater good.

Posted by: doombuggy at November 5, 2007 7:42 AM

Do I need to know?

This is the whole question here; Do I need to know the name of the victim? Let's take the Duke case as an example. I am not the alleged victim, I am not the alleged rapist, i am not related to those two persons, i am not even living in the same country. Why do I need to know?

To be sure that there's no parody of justice, the name of the plaintiff need to be known in the court. If I want to know the names, I would go to court myself. It is, after all, open to public. As a private citizen, I believe that I need to know two things only: The name of the guilty (if there's a guilty) and to know that the trial was legitimate (Due Process). Any non-involved citizen doesn't need to know more.

Who have as interest to disclose the name of the accusers or the accused? The Mass-Media and the various "Public Interest" groups.

Mass Medias are notorious for reporting any horror story that comes along, regardless of the veracity of the facts. Many news broadcasts can be easily called the "Blood&Misery Show" due to their negativity. In the case of the "Duke Lacrosse Team" case, the whole "Rich White males" against the "Poor Black woman" was gold for the news Show.The coverage was, by itself useless or even detrimental to due process but it went along because it sold publicity and pumped-up ratings. At that moment, if the accused are judged in the public arena, why the name of the alleged victim can't be known?

Then there's the various private grassroots groups who always find a way to vampiring the debate. The "Duke U" mess saw the whole crowd of activists trying to get in front of the camera. Women rights, Poor's rights, Civil (Read: Non White) rights and the various others used the spotlight to push their agenda to the public.

The most dangerous group in that media melee is still, for me, the ultra-feminists. For them, there's only two types of mens out there: the rapists and those who have not get caught yet for rape. For them, it is of equal value to publish the name of the defendant while hiding the identity of the alleged victim. The rethoric is simple: The defendant might had made other victims while the alleged victim's identity need to be protected to insure that women wouldn't be intimidated to report rape.

By itself, that mentality only validates my concept that mens are still living in a Victorian era while womens are in the 21st century. If the mens are dragged in front of the court of the public opinion, why not the woman? In the case of "Duke U", the plaintiff was so uncredible that the case deflated the moment her version was aired.

In summary, I strongly believe that I don't need to hear about rape cases that doesn't concern me directly. If anyone out there want to oust the name of people accused of rape, they should have the decency to also name the plaintiff. Just like a murder case, it is simple logic.

Posted by: Toubrouk at November 5, 2007 8:27 AM

Personally, I'm of the mind that false accusers of rape, when proved to be so, should be sentenced to the same time the accused would likely have done.

I understand the thinking here, and am all for establishing serious consequences for malicious false reporting of rape.

However, I can't help thinking of a case that I read about in the Washington Post a few years ago. A divorced woman with a couple of teenage children remarried to a guy she thought was wonderful. The teenage daughter appeared to resent the guy. Eventually, the teenage daughter accused the guy of molesting her. The authorities investigated, and deemed the charges to be groundless. The teenager was then charged with false reporting/perjury/etc., and was officially a scofflaw. A false accuser received her just rewards, right? Well, that's how it seemed...

...until the mother found a video that her "perfect" husband had made of him raping his stepdaughter. Yep, the girl had been telling the truth. She had reported it as she had been told to do, and not only had she not been believed, she had been punished for speaking up. Oh, and in the interim, the stepfather had managed to impregnate the girl.

Do I think this is necessarily the typical case of "false" reporting? Oh no. But I do think you're always going to have some cases in which rape charges are deemed to be false when they're really not. Prosecute people in those situations, and you really are going to discourage women (and men) who have been raped from reporting it. If I am raped and report it now, the worst that happens is that I am not believed and have to deal with the fact that my attacker is on the streets. Under an eye-for-an-eye system, if I am raped and report it, the worst that could happen is that I go to jail and he goes free. Mike Nifong isn't the only terrible prosecutor out there.

Prosecute malicious false reporters, and allow for civil suits that hit 'em where they live. But be careful of setting up a system that can, if things go wrong, end up slamming rape victims who happen to experience a poor-quality legal investigation. Just because the Duke stripper was a crazy liar doesn't mean that every woman with a chaotic sexual and personal history who reports rape is a liar.

Posted by: marion at November 5, 2007 8:30 AM

Here's another story: When I was about 19, way back when 19 year olds could legally drink themselves stupid, my hobby was drinking myself stupid. I was engaged in my hobby one evening and decided to pick a fight with some fellow enthusiasts and got myself beaten to a bloody pulp. I very nearly died.
When I tell this story, I usually joke that I had it coming but the events of that evening nag at my conscience. The guy who clobbered me beat me senseless fair and square, but then he did a "knee-drop" on my abdomen, rupturing my internal organs. He walked off leaving me in a dark and isolated area and if I hadn't been both very lucky and a hearty lad, I'd have died and he'd have been charged with murder.
The police eventually dropped in to see me at the hospital and let me know that they were charging the guy with assault and attempted murder.

The guy had a clever attorney. He filed counter charges that I had broken into his house and tried to steal his motorcycle etc. etc. (this is the part of the story where you suddenly cock a quizzical eyebrow at your humble protagonist.) No, I didn't break into anyone's house or try to steal anyone's motorcycle but I had been a loudmouthed drunk and I was embarrassed at having caused so much trouble and I just wanted the whole thing to go away.

All charges were dropped on both sides and it didn't occur to me until decades later that the guy who clobbered me belonged in jail and I had been too much of a wimp to put him there. If he went on to hurt other people, that is partly my fault.

The relevance of that story might not be obvious. As a man, I am entitled to shut the hell up when people start talking about laws and policies regarding rape. No one ever so much as suggested to me that I had a moral obligation to face charges against my character for the greater good of getting a dangerously violent person off the streets. But I did.

Posted by: martin at November 5, 2007 9:01 AM

Just a nitpick here. I'm not arguing anyone's guilt or innocence, but a DA declining to file charges is not the same as "being cleared on all charges."

Posted by: deja pseu at November 5, 2007 9:10 AM

"Just because the Duke stripper was a crazy liar doesn't mean that every woman with a chaotic sexual and personal history who reports rape is a liar."

Exactly. And this is, I think partially why rape shield laws exist. Without it I believe there was a tendency for the accuser to be tried instead of the accused. They would be tried both in the press and in the courtroom. The idea being that if a woman has once consented to sex, can she then be raped? (Hello the "theft of service" charge from a week or so ago?)

And I also agree with the rest of marion's comment. If we try every rape accuser for her own rape should then try whoever accused OJ of Nicole's death for murder? If our justice system was 100% infallible it would make more sense, but it isn't, sometimes there just isn't enough evidence for the court to prove something happened. Does that mean, therefore, that it didn't happen?

Posted by: Shinobi at November 5, 2007 9:40 AM

Marion's comment's a callback to the discussion the other day about why divorce is a Bad Thing; step-fathers (and -brothers and -uncles) are much, much more likely to molest than are the biological types. So there's that.

Thing about naming victims is, who you fuck is always your own business, isn't it? The traffic in your underpants is not something you talk about unless you have some intimacy with people. When was the last time you talked about your most recent good sexual encounter with strangers, let alone a horrific one?

Your privates are private, and I don't see how having them violated compels you to share the event with all others. If only for more reticent personalities, that could make the intrusion much, much worse. We hear thousands of credible stories of women not wanting to testify --even in slam-dunk cases-- simply because the pain of being explicit would be unbearable. We have a right to be shy, and some of us hold it closely and dearly... It's not a mere religious faith.

I think Amy's impulse to ignore our emotional responses in pursuit of justice is perfectly logical and might work... In a Star Trek parallel universe of Spocks. (There was a movement in a city back East years ago --specifics forgotten-- that took this approach to wife-beating cases. If a woman called the cops to restrain her abusive partner, prosecutors would nail him hard even if she later recanted her accusations. His prosecution was the property of the community, not a plaything through which a drunken couple could enact dramas of sex and power. The cops loved this: They hate domestic disputes.)

But we're not logical animals, we're flesh and blood. So this won't work. It's not a policy problem, it's a human problem.

Posted by: Crid at November 5, 2007 9:57 AM

This one touches home in a big way. Way back, just after I dropped out of school, I was accused of rape. Mind you, if I am moments from climax and the person I am having the sex with (for whatever reason) says stop, I pull out.

It turned out that this same girl had accused no less than three other people of rape, including her dad. That one took her out of a very poor home and put her into foster care with a very wealthy family. Along the way, she had never had a rape kit performed. This time they performed one, turns out she was a virgin with a whole hymen.

The charges were dropped against me, but the officer involved asked that I not discuss what had actually happened - I never did. I was told that she was being taken in for psychiatric evaluation. Turns out she was not nuts, just very devious.

To this day, fifteen years later, there are still people I went to school with who believe that I am a rapist. They assume there just wasn't a strong enough case against me. It's also widespread enough that after the first time I did a reality drug lecture at my old high school, a couple parents complained and I was actually banned from school grounds. This in spite of the fact that relevant teachers know the whole truth of the situation.

Mind you, I was fairly effective with my drug lecture. I know for a fact that at least three kids decided to stop smoking the marijuana, at least until their brains had fully developed. But, because no one was supposed to speak honestly about what happened, I was not allowed to do subsequent lectures.

Honestly, I am not a bit concerned about my reputation. Those who know me, know that I couldn't actually do that. I could care less what strangers think. But it really pissed me off that I wasn't allowed to continue doing the lectures. They were both honest and effective. I am also pissed that this is allowed to go on this way. Many others have to deal with similar stigmas, with even more widespread assumptions that they are rapists, when they are not.

It isn't something that just goes away. I am quite certain that there are plenty of people who still believe I am a rapist. Just as there are plenty who believe it of the others this girl accused. It would be one thing if she were actually mentally ill, not ok, but understandable. But she isn't. She is just pure evil. Yet she is protected, her lies protected, while those she accused live with the stigma of rapist.

Posted by: DuWayne at November 5, 2007 10:00 AM

DuWayne: Not to be too vulgar, but that sucks. I'm sorry you had to go through it. The officer involved did no one a favor by convincing you not to talk about it. Girlfriend should have have had to face some consequences for her malicious behavior.

Marion's comment's a callback to the discussion the other day about why divorce is a Bad Thing; step-fathers (and -brothers and -uncles) are much, much more likely to molest than are the biological types.

Agreed. Maybe I'm being too harsh, but I actually think that was a case of a woman desperate to have A Man in her life blinding herself to what that Man was doing to her offspring. But someone somewhere thought it would be a good idea to teach this minor girl a lesson. I cannot imagine the horror she must have felt when she realized that, not only was she forced to go on living with her stepfather, who now had unfettered access to her, but that she'd possibly have a criminal record as well. Good thing he was evil enough to make the tape. One does have to wonder just how good the investigation was, though...

Posted by: marion at November 5, 2007 10:11 AM

"The traffic in your underpants"

I have to agree. Although some of you would like to post videos of your big rig entering the tunnel, most of us tend to keep our cross-town traffic off the radar.

Posted by: Gog_Magog_Carpet_Reclaimers at November 5, 2007 10:16 AM

> One does have to wonder just
> how good the investigation
> was, though...

We all wish it had been better in this case, but how much nosing around do we want authorities to do in our private lives? The mother, already having availed herself of a divorce, apparently wouldn't want too much instruction from City Hall on how her family relationships were supposed to work.

Posted by: Crid at November 5, 2007 10:20 AM

Marion -

The only reason he was willing to explain it all, was because I gave my word that I wouldn't talk about it. He still wouldn't have done so, but the teacher who was in charge of peer counseling, drug and suicide intervention told him I could keep my mouth shut. After I gave my word, that was it.

It was the presumption of mental illness that led to the request for silence. I was loathe to cause her further problems by talking about it all. By the time I found out she was cognizant, albeit a sociopath, there was little point in raking back into it. The people that are important either knew the truth or assumed something very much like it. I did peer counseling and suicide intervention in high school and had the absolute trust of a lot of people.

The only negative to come of it, was being banned from doing the lectures. I have far more feeling for the others she accused. Her dad especially. Her parents divorced and he wasn't allowed to see his other children for almost three years. Took him another two years to get off the sex offenders registry, after the truth came out. Not to mention how this affected her sibs. Not only did they lose their dad for three years, they were also inundated by counselors who asked a lot of horrid questions about whether he had raped them or not.

Posted by: DuWayne at November 5, 2007 4:47 PM

My ex has accused her father, her uncle, a sugar daddy, a doctor each of rape, accused her father of molesting my daughters, myself of several instances of violent assault and sexual deviancy to her and my children, and in front of a judge accused me of breaking and entering and vandalism, her sister and brother of trafficking narcotics (with her mother's knowledge), and accused her father of assaulting her youngest brother and sending him to the hospital. She stabbed her 4th husband, then repeatedly called the police to say he was terrorizing her. I can't begin to describe her retaliation against a couple that made a good faith report to CPS concerning her drinking and narcotics use.

I have the police and CPS reports to impeach her, but the judge in our case isn't interested in hearing evidence and witnesses, but rather treats us like we're a pair of squabbling ex's who just have an axe to grind. He does not seem to understand why I have absolutely zero contact with my ex, on any subject whatsoever. I think that this aspect of her character is important in our case, but, oh, well, can't be mean to the girl, or have any accountability.

When I asked a city attorney about it, at a hearing to have the records of her two rape charges released for our trial, the city attorney was blunt about the whole false accusation thing - it's not cost effective. I was stunned, but that's the most honest thing I've heard in 4.5 years of litigation.

A year later (this summer), armed with considerably more information about her history and ongoing accusations, I went to the child abuse section of the police, since they also handle the false allegations. I asked them to review our CPS case history concerning my ex's false allegations, which have since multiplied. The detective refused to even look at what their companion agency had documented, and instead, she covered her ears and stated "I don't want to hear this". I could not believe that they had no interest in even reviewing the statements made by their professional peers in CPS concerning several felonies worth of false charges committed by my ex. It's a state jail felony to make a false report of child abuse to CPS, and a felony in the third degree for subsequent offenses. I don't know what the charge would be for a false accusation of rape would be, but I suspect it's in the ball park.

A doctor's had his practice ruined, I've had to spend a few grand on defense attorneys, her other husbands and paramours have lost thousands in property, reputation and legal fees, have had careers ruined or damaged. Her family is in hiding, her father's had a heart attack, and I'm still trying to dig out of a hole. That other couple lost their business, her nursing education went to waste, and yet my ex faces no consequences of any kind.

Really, it's a good strategy. Generally, her thing is to do the assault, vandalism or harassment, then be the first to call the police saying the other person did it to her. By the time the cops and the prosecutor realize that something's amiss, they usually just want to wash their hands of the whole thing and cover their asses. For her, the worst that can happen is that nothing happens, and the police call 'bullshit'. For her victim, the BEST that can happen is that nothing happens, since the accusations are equal, dispite the facts. The worst is, of course that getting arrested on a false charge adds to the injury of the original assault.

I realize that actually being raped probably makes someone's skin crawl in a way that nothing else ever will, and is a crime of a deeply wounding nature, so much that reliving it for the detectives, the doctor or nurse performing the evidence collection, and again for the prosecutor, and again at trial is probably horrendous.

The very fact that it's hard to prove (you can prove sexual contact, but it's difficult to prove lack of consent), there's supposed to be things you don't lie about. These days, ethics have gone out the window, and given some of the violent "victims" who's letters I've read here, lying about it is a pretty good tactic. I'm sure that the DA's ethics go out the door when he considers his record (there's more than one Nifong out there), and his analysis isn't on what happened, but what can he convince a jury of, or force someone to take a plea. Who would stand up for an accused rapist, lest they be tarred with the same brush?

Accusations of violence and rape seem pretty easy tools for retaliation, at least for women. What's the cost? Nothing - the accused usually has their life ruined, no matter the outcome, and the state picks up the tab for the prosecution's legal battle.

Changing that would mean that when the media, or anyone else decides to drag it out into the public, they should be compelled to tell the whole story, including the exoneration, with the same space, time or location as the original reporting. These are heinous crimes, and people should be swept away because someone wants revenge, and a scumbag wants to pad his resume. People should have the right to confront their accuser, and not just hidden away in court.

unfortunately, there are people, without specific knowledege of the case, who will give any accuser carte blanc. No matter how well exonerated, the accused will always have the stain of that accusation. Even today, the NOW club and the minority rights activists are still claiming the Duke U guys got off because of their race and priviledge and a technicality. I have yet to see any of them extend an apology, save Nifong, and only to save his own ass, not out of any sincerity. I suspect that the only priviledge these kids had was they were lucky their parents had the financial means to stand up to the prosecutor, which is likely a rare thing these days.

Posted by: Offended_Dad at November 5, 2007 7:49 PM

Correction: ...These are heinous crimes, and people shouldn't be swept away because someone wants revenge, and a scumbag wants to pad his resume...

Posted by: Offended_Dad at November 5, 2007 7:55 PM

I don't know what it is like to be raped. I do know what it is like to be falsely accused. And have the system assume your guilt. And have parts of the system recognize the proof of your innocence and still be unable to rectify what has happened in the meantime.

Lives are ruined. Finances destroyed. Children grow up without you.

It is certainly the case that not every rape/molestation/domestic violence/abandonment that can be proved is a false allegation. But when one party is willing to say it is they should be given the same benefit of the police and prosecutor as the original party had. And if it happens in the context of a custody situation, a proven false allegation should absolutely be considered grounds for loss of custody.

I definitely think one way to reform the system in the case of divorce is to have a rebuttable presumption of joint shared custody of the children. End the custody fights. If we believe in no fault divorce (and I do), then it is only right to assume both parents can jointly parent the children equally unless one parent can prove the other parent is unqualified.

Posted by: jerry at November 5, 2007 11:31 PM

This reminds me of that nutty old lady in Coogan's Bluff:

http://www.cswap.com/1968/Coogan's_Bluff/cap/en/25fps/a/00_17

Posted by: Doobie at November 6, 2007 4:29 AM

"But that's a slippery slope, she said, that could lead to not identifying people charged in any crimes."

I don't think people *should* be identified in any crimes. Not until they've been proven guilty in a court of law. Honestly, how many people really thought Scott Peterson wasn't guilty before the verdict came down? Did anyone in the entire country say, "Really? Guilty? Never would have thought it."? Nope. He was already found guilty in the Court of Public Opinion. How different would Richard Jewel's life have been if he had never publicly been identified as a suspect? How many people to this day, if you asked them on the street who Jewel was, would say, "Oh, wasn't he the Olympic bomber?" I bet quite a few. Theoretically, in this country, you're innocent until proven guilty. Not possible when your name is plastered on the front page as the accused.

Posted by: fft5305 at November 6, 2007 8:29 AM

I don't think people *should* be identified in any crimes. Not until they've been proven guilty in a court of law.

I like the judge down in Florida, I forget where, exactly, once the people were found guilty of stealing from Wal-Mart, sentenced them to having to walk in front of Wal-Mart, carrying signs saying they stole from Wal-Mart! He also had them wear chicken suits, but their faces were visible. Dang! I wish I could remember where the link is...

Posted by: Flynne at November 6, 2007 9:20 AM

Our legal system is very flawed. Unfortunately it is controlled by humans and it isn't likely to get any better. It only shines when compared to the alternatives like vigilantism. So I'm with those who say leave out all the identifying information until there is final resolution. That would remove the motivation to try the case in the press and promote the careers of the officials involved. It is important for the public to be informed about the activities of the justice system so some oversight exists, but nothing useful is gained by releasing names and there is great potential for irreparable harm.

Posted by: Jim H. at November 6, 2007 11:19 AM

1 in 4 children are sexually assaulted in America. It costs over 130 billion dollars to treat them a year. They will be typically assaulted again before they are 18. They have one of the highest suicide rates as a result. Families of such children are openly mocked, attacked, used, misused in our society so that we teach them to remain silent. That allows the stalkers to carry out the plan in the safety of our twisted thinking about rape. In short, they count on us thinking this way. Thought we should just get some statistics here.

Posted by: Cathy at December 5, 2007 5:48 PM

Cathy, you're quoting invalid statistics.

Details in my column here:

http://www.advicegoddess.com/ag-column-archives/2007/05/diddle_he_or_di.html

If you haven't personally read the studies, please don't quote the stats. Not here, anyway.

And think about it -- of the people you meet, do you really find that a quarter of them are victims of child sexual abuse?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at December 5, 2007 11:34 PM

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